Talking Point

Hammers Wembley trip at risk

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West Ham’s away trip to Wembley on New Year’s Eve to face Spurs is at risk!

We have learned today that London Underground want the game postponed because of the unavailability of drivers.

And we understand that TFL would like a permanent ban on all future Premier League matches in the capital on New Year’s Eve.

Tickets have yet to go on sale and the fixture remains in limbo awaiting final approval from Wembley’s Safety Advisory Board.

We understand London Underground are refusing to budge from current position despite the fixture having Premier League and police approval.

However, they have a history of brinkmanship on these issues but generally reach a compromise at the eleventh hour. Meeting are continuing in a bid to solve the problem.

A source close to West Ham indicated any issues would be dealt by the Spurs end rather than ours saying:

“The game has been confirmed by the Premier League although there were intense discussions with various parties before it was confirmed. However, The police have also confirmed. Spurs would have to sort out any issues if they are subsequently raised.”


The Sean Whetstone Column

Enough is enough!

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I have just returned home from watching the West Ham Under 23’s take on Chelsea at Aldershot’s stadium. Although it was a goalless draw the young team played with more passion, determination and grit than any of the first team showed on Friday night. I sat just behind Terry Westley and greeted him and wished him good luck before kick off. It was good to see him and his methods up close. He is another very passionate manager who frequently banged the clear plastic glass of the dugout when the game wasn’t going his way. It was also great to see Declan Rice up close and personal, he truly is a wonderful prospect who clearly models himself on the late great Bobby Moore.

This afternoon was a pleasant distraction from the embarrassment that happened on Friday night. West Ham fans hopes were quickly extinguished after Brighton’s first goal on 10 minutes. As the second killer goal went in just before halftime West Ham fans turned on West Ham fans inside the stadium. I personally witnessed a couple of incidents in my block 113 in the West stand of arguing, pushing and shoving and at halftime police rushed into the back of block 114 for another incident where one West Ham fan was arrested and hauled off. It seemed a return to old days of last season.

As the third goal went in on 75 minutes there was further trouble at Club London next to the director’s box as some kind of altercation broke out in the corporate hospitality area. By then embarrassed by a 3-0 defeat at home by Brighton the London Stadium largely emptied and West Ham fans made their long way home in disbelief what they had just witnessed on the pitch. It is on nights like last night that the London Stadium doesn’t feel like our new home.

A poll of over 3,100 supporters on Claret and Hugh on Saturday says the majority now want Slaven Bilic gone, over 77% want him gone immediately, over 10% want to give him until the Palace game, 4% say give him until January while 5% say the end of the season and a mere 3% want him to get a new contract.

There are rumours that he offered to resign after the Newcastle loss and again after Brighton. While it might have some element of truth I am told he has never offered to resign to the board at any time and the offer was made directly to the players instead which is meaningless.

I understand the board are currently unwilling to sack Slaven Bilic without a replacement with proven Premier League experience and they say there is simply no-one of the right calibre available at this time. They don’t want to be in the same situation as Leicester City. They also believe there is no natural successor to become caretaker manager at West Ham and while they love Terry Westley to bits they don’t think he has the right skill set to take over the Hammers as caretaker boss with demands of the Premier League.

Despite widespread reports, West Ham have NOT held any emergency board meetings over the weekend to decide whether Slaven Bilic should be sacked!

Speculation has been swirling around since Friday night’s shock result that Bilic could be out of work by the weekend as a result of such a meeting. David Gold is currently away on a winter break in the Caribbean and no board meeting would be held without him.

However, West Ham are drawing up a list of candidates to take over from Slaven Bilic should the decision be made in the future and the club knows it has a serious problem and is quickly speaking to agents and intermediaries. One of the possibilities being considered is an approach to veteran coach Guus Hiddink on a short-term contract whilst the club look for their ideal long-term candidate but there is concern over his age.

Another surprise option being considered by the club is former manager Sam Allardyce, he is said to be interested in the USA International manager job and it remains to be seen if he would tell the board where to stick it he got a call to get them out of trouble short term. Another Claret and Hugh poll of over 2,000 supporters shows that nearly 54% of supporters would accept Big Sam back as a short-term fix while 46% would stick with Slaven Bilic for the remainder of the season even if he meant relegation given the choice.

Meanwhile, bookmakers have predictably made Slaven Bilic a massive the odds-on favourite as the next Premier League manager to be sacked this season. Slav’s chance of the sack has been slashed to 1/3 making odds-on on favourite with Sky Bet to go with his closest rival Ronald Koeman at Everton on 11/4. Paddypower have Bilic 4/9 for the push while it’s 2/5 with Bet Victor.

Sky Bet have Manuel Pellegrini as the 100/30 favourite to replace the Croatian with Carlo Ancelotti second favourite at 11/2, Rafa Benitez is third at 6/1 with Sean Dyche, Roberto Mancini and Slavisa Jokanovic all at 8/1.

Manuel Pellegrini is the manager of Chinese Super League club Hebei China Fortune since August 2016. He is thought to be on a lucrative contract in China worth £30m over three years. He is the bookies Odds on favourite to join Leicester City. Difficult to match his current package.

Carlo Ancelotti says he will take at least a 10-month break after the Bayern Munich axe. Was paid £12.6m per year on a three-year contract at Bayern. Even if we could afford him after his sabbatical he is unlikely to consider West Ham as a realistic option as he won’t be short on offers.

Rafa Benitez says he is committed to Newcastle until the end of the season. He signed a new three-year contract in May this year worth £4.2m per year so West Ham could end up paying a compensation of around £10m should they tempt Rafa to leave the North East. With Newcastle up for sale, he is said to be keen to wait and find out what a new owner could bring to the Magpies in terms of backing in the transfer market.

Sean Dyche signed a contract extension at Burnley in 2016 and is one of lowest paid managers in the Premier League on £420,000 per year. He joined the Clarets in 2012 and in his five-year tenure has led them twice to Premier League promotion. Whether Dyche would leave Burnley and whether he would be an improvement on Slaven Bilic are all unanswered questions.

Roberto Mancini took over as Zenit St Petersburg manager this summer on a three-year contract thought to be worth €4.5m a year. He has the option of a two-year extension. Whether Mancini has a clause to leave if a Premier League club came in for him is unknown but there is likely to be a large compensation to persuade Zenit to part with him.

Slavisa Jokanovic took over at Championship side Fulham in 2015 and signed a two-year contract extension to stay in West London earlier this year. He has no Premier League experience despite previously getting Watford promoted to the Premier League. His lack of experience makes him somewhat of a gamble and would cost £5m in compensation to Fulham which makes him an unlikely candidate.

Personally, I think Bilic has already lost the dressing room and things will only get worse as the season goes on. Angelo Ogbonna says his baby daughter liked a ‘Bilic Out’ message on social media and it wasn’t him (honest guv) but rumours suggest the dressing room is already divided.

The board need to act and act fast, enough is enough, this is the time they need to stand up and be counted. Will the next West Ham manager please come forward.

Thanks for all you have done as a player and manager Slav and good luck for the future!

Sean COYI

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The Sean Whetstone Column

West Ham United Supporters' Club - 70 years of history - Refusing to fade and die

West Ham United Supporters’ Club also known as the Hammers Social Club was formed 70 years ago in 1947.

It was founded by six members with their headquarters in a front room in Wigston road which was the home of the then Club Secretary Mr Syd Russell. Their existence came into being after a public appeal from the then West Ham board of directors who invited suggestions on how to repair the Boleyn Ground which was badly bomb damaged by a German flying bomb in 1944.

A few years earlier during the 1939/40 Football League season only three matches old when World War Two broke out. The League programme was immediately abandoned as the Government introduced measures to restrict large gatherings at cinemas, race-tracks and, inevitably, football grounds. Regional competitions were set up in place of the Football League, with West Ham United taking on local rivals from across London and the Home Counties between October 1939 and May 1946. Football League competition only resumed for West Ham after the Second World War with a trip to Plymouth to face Argyle on 31 August 1946 in the Second Division.

Relations between West Ham board and the Supporters’ club didn’t start off well with the directors writing to the newly formed Supporters’ club on 17th December 1947 suggesting the newly formed social club had no special status and deserved no special treatment so a relationship with the board was neither required or wanted. Six months later the social club requested a face to face meeting with the board but again the directors rejected the requested the request referring the club to the letter they wrote last December. The relationship at the time was described as distant at best or hostile at worst.

The social club wrote again and asked the West Ham directors to agree to a name West Ham United Supporters’ Club or West Ham United Football Supporters’ Club. In the board minutes of the time they recorded "We, West Ham United FC were not interested in what tile they gave themselves’

Despite various knockbacks, the social club grew and they moved to Hartley Ave School around 1948 and opened up membership to everyone. They stayed at the school until the 1964 FA Cup final after which they bought three caravans which they used around the Boleyn Ground.

The second annual dinner of the Supporters’ Club was held at Robin Hood Hotel with 120 paying members for the gala event. Membership at that time stood at 400 and a local newspaper article talked about increasing membership to 1,000.

Probably the most influential figure in the history of the West Ham Supporters’ Club was local politician Councillor Tom Jenkinson who became chair of the Supporters club in 1951

Thomas Alfred Jenkinson (28 November 1911 – November 1994) was a Labour Party politician who was active in the East Ham area. His working-class roots came from the Popular workhouse where he lived with his mother and father in 1923. He broke free of the workhouse in 1926 when he found work as a delivery boy.

He was a member of East Ham Coropration, he was the last mayor of East Ham in 1964-65 and was elected unopposed to the successor Newham London Borough Council to represent the South Ward in 1964, he was re-elected in 1968, 1971 and 1974. Following boundary changes in 1978 he was elected as a councillor representing Custom House and Silvertown Ward. He also sat as a member of the Greater London Council representing Newham North East from 1973–1977 and Newham South from 1977–1981.

In 1990 he returned to Newham Council as a councillor for South Ward. He held the seat at the 1994 borough council election, dying in office later that year.

It was Jenkinson who finally forged a close relationship between the social club and the directors through then West Ham chairman Reg Pratt. They were to set up a joint fundraising campaign with the Supporters club running jackpot, lottery and pools competitions. The supporters club purchased a caravan for £250 to make sales from.

It was the supporters club which founded the Hammer of the year award at the beginning of the 1957/58 season when members wanted to recognise the outstanding player with an official award. The first recipient was defender Andy Malcolm, whose form helped Ted Fenton’s side to win the Division Two title on the final day of a memorable campaign.

The first cheque to the West Ham United Football Club Ltd Building Fund was paid over in 1961.

In 1962 the Supporters Club gave the club over £4,000. In the following 18 months, £23,000 was given to the board at West Ham which they spent on
improvements to the East Stand, to the training ground at Chadwell Heath and the building of the new ‘A’ block in the West Stand which opened 1965.

By 1964 the Supporters’ Club Annual Dinner invited West Ham Chairman Reg Pratt as their main speaker with the FA Cup on show on the main table.

When a piece of land next to became vacant they purchased a mobile dining room from Wimpy which they used as a makeshift clubhouse.

In 1972 a piece of land was leased by the then chairman Mr Tom Jenkinson with a mortgage from West Ham to build the existing clubhouse in Castle-street.

On 25th March 1993, the clubhouse was refurbished and the social club entered a new lease with Newham council for 99 years with £30,000 up front and a peppercorn rent of five pence per year.

In 1980, when West Ham won the Cup, Tom Jenkinson borrowed the FA Cup and a lot of the Club members had their photos taken with it.

By May 2016 the Supporters’ club had a thriving membership and on the last game at the Boleyn Ground against Manchester United, they took £15,000 in takings at the club.

In contrast, when West Ham moved to Stratford in August 2016 they took just £21 in takings when West Ham took on Bournemouth for the first game at the London Stadium.

The club continued to lose £7,000 per month last season until the bank reserves dwindled to nothing and a member stepped in to personally bankroll them.

Last month the club sadly closed their Castle Street premises doors after a health and safety audit.

Membership secretary Paul Walker recently told the Newham Recorder

“We came in here and we thought that some of the stuff didn’t look very safe, so we agreed to have a health and safety expert come in,” he said.

“I think we underestimated the problems. The maintenance was not up to date, so the insurance certificate was totally invalid.

“We opened the boiler cupboard and there were a load of fag butts in there. Then we found out that the flue was not connected to the boiler so it is seeping carbon monoxide and there are asbestos panels in there and someone has been smoking.

“The boiler is condemned, the fire doors are not compliant. I remember Grenfell and we didn’t want it to happen here, so as a committee we unanimously decided to close,” said Walker. We had 500 or 600 people here on match days, but the fire precautions were not connected, so what might have happened doesn’t bear thinking about.”

“We reckon we need a couple of hundred thousand to get things right,” said Paul Christmas. “You have to think about bringing things up to date. We are not in it for the glory or for personal gain, we just want to save this club"

“The question most people have asked us when we were looking for a venue close to the new stadium, was ‘Aren’t West Ham helping you?’ said Christmas.

The Supporters’ Club have set up a Crowdfunding Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/whufcsc

2017 Membership is still open for Supporters’ club and new members can sign up at https://www.whufcsc.com/membership-1

With the closure of the Castle Street premises, the new committee has set up a pop-up bar close to the London Stadium for members on match days.

The new venue at Stour Space is open from 10am until 10:30 pm for weekend matches and 4pm until 8pm for weekday matches. Breakfast will be served from 10am weekends with food available throughout the day to members. Matchday four pints jugs will be available as well as a bottle bar.

Funds raised from the new matchday bar will be used to help maintain and keep the Castle Street premises and also to help fund a possible permanent venue closer to the London Stadium. More details at https://www.whufcsc.com/stour-space

Supporters’ club committee member Paul Christmas thinks the Castle Street premises is worth saving telling the Newham Recorder:

“Remember there are 850 flats going up just outside and we want to be an asset for the local community as well as West Ham United supporters,” he said.

“We are refusing to fade and die and we have to give it our best shot. I think there are West Ham fans out there who want to help save us.”

My thanks to Nigel Kahn and Paul Christmas for much of the background in writing this article.

Come on you Irons!

Sean


The Sean Whetstone Column

Is Slaven Bilic's time up?

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At the end of August, media speculation suggested that Slaven Bilic had four games to save his job after we embarrassingly lost 3-0 to Newcastle.

His reputation was probably at an all-time low at that time with many social media polls of over 6,000 fans suggesting 75% wanted him gone.

We are now four games on and I ask the question again, has Slav done enough to save his job for this season?

OK we had one Premier League win over Huddersfield, it was a gritty game and we won but we required a lot of luck and it remained goalless for the first 72 minutes.

We had the less than convincing goalless draw against West Brom at the Hawthorns with players playing out of position again then the 3-0 win over hapless Bolton in the League Cup who possibly have more important things on their mind considering their league position.

Slav continuously insists he is not playing Chicharito out of position on the wide on the wing and that in fact he is just off the main striker. He also defends Andy Carroll saying it will take him a few games to get to his best but equally admits it is difficult to play Chicharito with Arautovic, Antonio and Carroll in the same team.

Yesterday he was at it again, I had been tipped off before the team was announced that Michail Antonio had received a knock in training and was a doubt for Saturday. He passed a late fitness test but I was told that he was only a 70% chance that he could get through the 90 minutes. Antonio didn’t look his normal self from the start and you could tell he was in pain. It was no surprise to me when he pulled up after 28 minutes.

Later Slav would deny to reporters that he took a chance with Antonio insisting his injury was something new.

Next came his decision to bring on Andy Carroll as a replacement for Antonio, again I had been told that Caroll had a knock in training and that was one of the reasons to drop him to the bench. I was told they didn’t want to risk him for 90 minutes and wanted to rest him. In my view, Bilic could have bought in Andre Ayew as a replacement for Antonio and kept the same formation but instead, he showed his favouritism for Carroll and changed the team around him pushing Chicharito out to the wing.

Then was the bizarre decision of starting Aaron Cresswell instead Arthur Masuaku. Most fans know who has the form at the moment but Bilic appears to have his favourites and he is stubbornly loyal to them.

Last week I spoke Peterborough director of football Barry Fry who was a manager at Birmingham City under Sullivan, Gold and Brady.

He told me what I already knew that the board are backers and not sackers and had always been loyal and good to him even after they bought in Trevor Francis to replace him.

They have stayed friends for life and he was a guest of Sullivan and Gold in the director’s box at the London Stadium against Huddersfield.

You can hear the full 10 minute with Barry Fry at www.moorethanjustapodcast.co.uk

If I have one major criticism about the West Ham board it is that they hang on for too long before making their decision and they are too loyal. I understand that Slav will not be offered a new contract and his contract will run down to the summer like Sam Allardyce’s contract was allowed to expire.

Bilic knows it, the players know it and we know it. The decision has been made and he is a dead man walking in my opinion.

Personally, I think we need fresh ideas and a new manager at the helm for the remainder for this season but I doubt much will happen despite speculation in the Sun today that replacements are being lined up. My source tells me no-one is lined up and no discussions have been had to replace him.

It appears this story will have no closure until the summer.

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The Sean Whetstone Column

Will it Ever End? The West Ham Pantomime Continues: No 94

Anyone from the outside of the West Ham family could be forgiven that our current situation resembles a pantomime at the moment at best or a complete laughing stock at worst.

On transfer deadline day we had the first act of the Hammers pantomime with the Diafra Sakho show. The Senegal striker decided to follow Payet in claiming he had to return to France for personal reasons so decided to skip training and fly to France to undertake a private medical. He then stayed in France on transfer deadline day in a failed attempt to force through a move. The real pantomime villain behind all of this is his agent Mark McKay, son of Willie McKay. He was the architect of bringing Payet to Marseille and taking him back there again so it should have come as little surprise with his involvement.

The West Ham board held a telephone call in which they unanimously agreed to stand firm and not sell their striker. By the afternoon of the transfer deadline, day and Mark McKay briefing Sky Sports News every move Sakho and McKay jumped on a plane back to Stansted with a quick detour to Chelmsford race course. McKay’s horse ‘Siege of Boston’ was running in the 3.20. The horse won at 9/2 while Sakho stayed in the car park speaking to Club Secretary Andy Pincher but the player is said to have put £100 on his agent’s horse pocketing £550 in winnings. A non-runner in the race was called Happy Hammer. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.

Despite the club secretary telling Sakho that no directors were available, McKay and Sakho went to the London Stadium late evening. David Sullivan was on holiday in Marbella, David Gold was at home in Redhill and Karren Brady was out of the office on non-West Ham business. This didn’t deter Sakho who sat down with Andy Pincher to be told there was nothing that could be done.

Sakho returned to training on Friday with his tail between his legs to be read the riot act by Slaven Bilic and told to knuckle down. He was offered a new contract or a move in January if plays at least 50% of the games between now and January and scores at least six goals. In many ways, this is the last chance of his career despite so many other second chances with the Hammers.

Not to be outdone by the Sakho and McKay show, enter act two of the pantomime with the David Sullivan and Sporting Lisbon show.

Sullivan made an ill advised and poorly timed statement on the official website which not only appeared to throw Slaven Bilic under the bus but upset Sporting Lisbon at the same time. Sullivan said:

“Overall Slaven is happy with the business we have done during the summer transfer window,” he told whufc.com. "We received the manager’s wish-list before the window opened and we have managed to get the top four players on it. It is no secret that we made a club record bid for Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho but unfortunately that offer was rejected a couple of weeks ago.

“Late last night Sporting Lisbon made contact to accept the original offer, but unfortunately it was just too late in the day, and we simply did not have enough time to put the player through a medical. We were not prepared, as a club, to buy a player for that amount of money without him having gone through adequate medical checks.
“Grzegorz Krychowiak and Renato Sanches were both offered to the manager before their switches elsewhere, but he told us that he is happy with the squad he has.

“As a Board we are behind Slaven, and he believes he has the tools to turn around our form and rectify our disappointing start to the season.”

Sporting’s president Bruno de Carvalho responded saying he had not received a single concrete offer for their defensive midfielder William Carvalho.

“There was no single proposal for William Carvalho, we did not refuse an offer or anything, there were approaches, but not proposals! Why did he play in the National Team? No one said he had a permanent injury”

Sporting Lisbon went one step further when their director of communications Nuno Saraiva has hit out at West Ham co-owner David Sullivan

Speaking on Facebook Saraiva said:

“Mr David Sullivan lies. Sporting Club de Portugal, as was said by its president, did not receive any proposal for the player William Carvalho. The football industry is not the stage of an adult film in which all obscenities are allowed. For this reason, the owner of a club requires much more than this intellectual pornography.Mr Sullivan has a duty to prove what he says. For this reason, Sporting Clube de Portugal challenges him to publicly show the proposals he says have been made as well as the evidence that Sporting CP has received them.”

The communications director admits that agents may have been offering William around, but insists that was nothing to do with Sporting Lisbon. He explained that

“We have nothing to do with the actions of businessmen or relatives who live on the expense of players and who are offering them from club to club at a price, without a mandate, as if they are cheap merchandise in a supermarket, thus devaluing the player and the club, and creating lamentable situations that have already forced, in this case, Sporting Club de Portugal to take drastic measures to defend against these characters that are parasites in the lives of some players.”

In an ongoing war of words, David Sullivan spoke to me yesterday at Claret and Hugh to give his version of events.

He flatly denied claims from Sporting Lisbon that West Ham never made bids for the defensive midfielder for William Carvalho saying bluntly:

“They are NOT TRUE!”

He added:

“But he (Bruno de Carvalho) can’t admit publicly that he was prepared to sell him. Our bid was submitted via the player’s agent and our negotiators in Portugal. We also put in a written bid.”

Sunday Evening Update:

Writing via his personal Twitter account, owner’s son David Sullivan Jnr said: ‘West Ham are commencing legal proceedings against the communications director of sporting Lisbon as a written offer for the player was made. he continued ’To Bruno de Carvalho the president of sporting Lisbon. To say we never made an offer is nonsense and serious libel.’

The Telegraph claim West Ham have an email showing that they did, indeed, on August 10, contact Sporting and their president Bruno de Carvalho to make an offer for William Carvalho which amounted to a minimum €25million (£23million), to be paid over three years, with additional terms and bonuses “to be discussed”.

David Sullivan has confirmed he intends to go ahead with legal action against Sporting Lisbon and their director of communications, Nuno Saraiva, who claimed West Ham made no formal written offer to sign the midfielder William Carvalho.

Saraiva also dubbed the Hammers co chairman a “parasite” and “liar” which Sullivan claims has left him no alternative but to sue.

Speaking exclusively to Claretandhugh on Sunday night he said:

“I will be starting legal action against Sporting Lisbon and their media director.I hate suing people in football, but the accusation is so strong we have no alternative.”

However, he says he is not looking for any financial reward adding:

“We’ll just look for a retraction and apology and a payment to charity. I’m not looking for financial gain.”

Anti board feelings are at an all time high and anti manager feelings are at an all time high with no final act to the pantomime in sight at the moment.

Keep calm and continue supporting West Ham

COYI

Sean


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